City of Champions

Byron Scott, the former New Jersey Nets coach and Los
Angeles Lakers guard, has had plenty of experience with Boston fans. In
an appearance on WFAN Radio last year he characterized them this way:
crazy, cruel, racist, hostile, and drunk-not necessarily in that order.
“What the hell does he know?” responded Red Auerbach, and so, as far as
Boston fans were concerned, that was that.

What the
Celtics' legendary leader likely meant was that passion makes up for a
multitude of sins. And there is certainly no lack of passion among the
fans hereabouts, fueled this year by the Patriots' seamless run to the
Super Bowl, the promising off-season retooling of the Red Sox, the
return of a favorite son to run the Celtics, and the presence, in
Bruinsland, of arguably the single best player in hockey.

Boston fans' passion, of course, is as great in adversity as it is in
triumph. Sometimes it is expressed with wit. Shortly after the
ballyhooed trade for Alex Rodriguez fell through, a Red Sox follower
e-mailed Gene Orza of the players' union, who was widely blamed for
derailing the deal. “You've ruined my summer,” she wrote, according to
the Boston Globe, “and it' not even winter.” Red Sox fans the likes of
novelist John Updike and poet Donald Hall add their literate, lyrical
voices to the howls from the cheap seats.

Sometimes style
is absent. Sometimes accuracy is, too. Consider, for example, the
popular cry “Yankees suck!” Unfortunately, they don't-but the Sox are
gaining. Even without the best player in baseball, they've added a
second ace (Curt Schilling) and the American League leader in saves
(Keith Foulke).

There are probably some literate and
lyrical Patriots fans, though I've encountered only the other kind.
“Our goal at the Pats game was to get trashed and maybe get kicked
out,” wrote one fan enrolled in a sportswriting course I teach. “We
achieved our goal of getting trashed and one of us achieved the goal of
getting kicked out. He even went the extra mile and got arrested!”

Not all fans need a rap sheet to confirm their fealty. During the
Patriots' championship season just ended, which surely exceeded the
expectations of every living pundit and more than a few of the Patriots
themselves, 45,378 of the faithful showed up at Gillette Stadium during
a snowy nor'easter. They sat on the frosty drifts, cheered the team to
victory over the Dolphins, and then celebrated with a massive
snowfight. A few weeks later, they were back to scoff at record subzero
wind chills.

Yes, the curse revisited the Sox last
fall, but the bolstering of the team' pitching is a cause for optimism,
and the Celtics have begun a new, aggressive era under Danny Ainge. The
Bruins, meanwhile, have the wondrous Joe Thornton on whom to hang their
hopes. Passion may be what makes Boston a great sports town, but the
blessing is also in the bounty. Ours is one of only nine cities in
America that fields teams in all four major sports. We've got an MLS
team, and we had a WUSA team and may again some day. The Boston
Marathon is second to none, at least in terms of tradition. The Head of
the Charles is the biggest rowing regatta on the planet. The charm of
the Beanpot requires no explanation, though college hockey fans will
explain its allure at great length if you make the mistake of asking.

Who can blame them? It' tough to find four college hockey teams within
a few slapshots of each other banging away on successive Monday nights.
And occasionally, somebody other than Boston University wins. The
Harvard-Yale game may be weak on football, but it' unsurpassed among

Then there are the venues: Longwood Cricket
Club, long on tradition, if short on pro tennis these days; the Country
Club, where young Francis Ouimet knocked off the big kids 91 years ago
and where, more recently, the Americans staged a Ryder Cup comeback so
spectacular that golfers cavorted like Pats fans; and Suffolk Downs,
where jockey Tom Smith first saw Seabiscuit .

In the end,
it all comes back to the Red Sox. This season may be the most
anticipated in recent memory. If they break our hearts again, it' only
because we care so much.

The Stats

1) Babe Ruth played his last season with which team?
A. Boston Braves B. Boston Red Sox C. New York Giants D. New York Yankees

2) Joan Benoit won the Boston Marathon how many times?
A. 1 C. 3 B. 2 D. 4

3) Who scored the only touchdown for the Patriots in Super Bowl XX (a loss to the Bears)?
A. Tony Collins B. Tony Eason C. Irving Fryar D. Mosi Tatupu

4) Which former Celtic coached Boston College to a 117-38 record over six seasons? A. Bob Cousy B. Tom Heinsohn C. K. C. Jones D. Bill Russell

5) Rank the teams by their all-time winning percentages:
A. Bruins B. Celtics C. Patriots D. Red Sox


The Brookline-bred Red Sox GM tells of his lost years in San Diego. Don't tell him Boston' not the best.
By Theo Epstein

To appreciate Boston as a sports town, you have to leave for a while.
If you really want to appreciate it, live in southern California, as I
did for a short time.

The first thing you notice about
your new city is the sports section of the newspaper. Every morning,
eyes half-closed, you look for it. You flip through the entire paper
without finding it. You flip again, more slowly this time, and using
your eyes, too. Still nothing.

You eventually discover it,
Casey Fossum-thin and tucked away behind the classifieds. There are few
things in life quite so unsatisfying as your new city' lousy sports
section. Where are the four stories on last night' game? Where are the
columnists ripping the local teams?

You learn to live with it. Now and then, your parents send you the Globe sports section for a quick fix.

Next you notice that people don't talk about sports-not in the office,
not at bars, not on the street. They just don't care. There' no buildup
to the game, no sense of personal stake in the outcome. Fans don't walk
around with their heads down after a tough loss.

When fall
rolls around, you wake up early to catch the Pats game at a sports bar.
It' bad enough that football starts at 10 a.m., when you're still
groggy and the bar smells like last night' beer. But then you realize
that the only people in the place have Boston accents and they're
wearing old number 11 Bledsoe jerseys. Expatriates dressed up like

The holidays finally arrive and you take a
redeye home. You hail a taxi at Logan and by the time you hit the
tunnel, the driver is talking about Sunday' game. You smile, wonder why
you ever left, and decide you just might like to stay awhile.


Having played high school football in Natick, college ball at BC, and
professionally for the Patriots, San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug
Flutie may know more about sports in Boston than anybody. The Heisman
Trophy winner would be hard-pressed to top one moment: his Hail Mary
pass that beat Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl. At least, any New
Englander would say so.

What' the best part about playing in Boston?
Being at home. It means having friends and family around.

What' the worst part?

The weather. Also, there' a loss of privacy. Being from Boston, a lot
of people know who I am, so everywhere I go, I'm bombarded.

What does it take to win over Boston fans?
The number-one thing is to win. You can show all-out effort, but winning is still the most important thing.

Other than your teammates, who was the greatest Boston athlete?
Larry Bird. He turned around the Celtics. And he won championships.

Is Boston the best sports town in America?
It' one of the best. It' very exciting right now with the Red Sox and obviously with the Pats this year.
-Greg Lalas

A Fan for All Seasons
In a city full of sports fans, Mike Schuster may just be the most obsessed. Or perhaps just the best dressed.

By James Burnett

Boston sports fans, being Boston sports fans, could spend hours
debating whether Mike Schuster truly ranks as the greatest among them,
but the evidence in his favor is compelling. The 41-year-old attends
roughly one sporting event per week, and before each game-home or away,
major-league or minor-he squeezes his girth into an elaborate
head-to-toe costume and paints a bright mask onto his pudgy face.
Though fans outfitted like him can be found in bleachers everywhere,
rare are those so unflagging in their devotion and so charitable in
their loyalties. He is Patriots Man, Celtics Man, Bruins Man, Red Sox
Man, and even, occasionally, Revolution Man.

“Mike has
dedicated a good percentage of his energies to this. He' a
professional, is what it comes down to,” says his father, Dan Schuster,
who notes that his son has “an encylopedic memory” for statistics and
blown calls. (One of Schuster' sisters is married to a former Celtics
mascot. “We're normal, I swear,” says his mom.)

lives in Foxboro in a ramshackle two-story house whose main selling
point seems to have been its proximity to the New England Patriots, for
whom he' proselytized so determinedly that the team anointed him its
1999 fan of the year. His living room is plastered with posters and
pennants and overstuffed with memorabila-helmets, balls, and
bobble-head dolls. Team blankets blot out the windows. “Nice and dark,”
he says, the better to enhance the picture on his 51-inch TV. Schuster
is single and lives alone. He schedules vacations around road games;
tailgate parties are his Friendster.

A computer programmer
by trade, Schuster is presently “underemployed,” leaving him with
plenty of time to update the website he' set up to promote his exploits
and prepare for the many crazy-fan pageants he competes in. Seven years
ago, he won two seats for the Patriots' appearance in Super Bowl XXXI
through a radio station in New Orleans-he'd traveled to the city sans
tickets or hotel reservations-thanks to his newly acquired silver
mohawk. Earlier this winter, at a contest in Braintree sponsored by
WZLX, he waited until just before the crowd selected the finalists to
lift his shirt and reveal his trump card, an oversized reproduction of
the station' logo that he'd drawn on his belly.

Even if he
wanted to, Schuster couldn't take a game off. “Some days, you don't
feel 100 percent,” he says. “But the other fans appreciate it, and it
really doesn't take that long, so you might as well do it. I put on the
face paint, and I put on the costume, and I'm ready to go out there and
cheer on the team. Yeah, it looks ridiculous. But I almost feel like a
superhero in some ways.”

Out on the Field

The sight of amateur sports is commonplace in Boston, given the high
proportion of young professionals and university students. But the
sight of a former All-Pro Patriots linebacker tossing the ceremonial
coin to open a national flag-football tournament on a rainy fall
weekend may have raised eyebrows. So will this: All the players in the
tournament were gay.The sight of amateur sports is commonplace in
Boston, given the high proportion of young professionals and university
students. But the sight of a former All-Pro Patriots linebacker tossing
the ceremonial coin to open a national flag-football tournament on a
rainy fall weekend may have raised eyebrows. So will this: All the
players in the tournament were gay.

The same weekend, the
Boston Gay Basketball League would host a round-robin tournament. A few
weeks before, some 400 athletes had come to town for the gay soccer
world championships.

There are at least 25 gay sports
organizations in Boston, with 2,000 athletes who compete in rowing,
rugby, squash, and ice hockey, among other sports.

all that, Boston' gay leagues have an added social aspect that doesn't
exist in many straight leagues. Players may tear into each other during
a game, but once it' over there' friendliness . . . and flirtation. “We
can play a game and be competitive on the court,” says one league
organizer, “and afterwards find ourselves a date.”
-Erin Byers and Mitch Polatin

Settling the Score
While the Patriots won two Super Bowls in three years, another game played out with Boston' bookmakers.

By Andrew Rimas

As the whistle blew on the 2002 NFL championship, an unfamiliar noise
disturbed the New England winter. It was a sound that had rarely been
heard here, at least since 1918, if not 1865. First there was a
silence, a suck, and a gasp of realization. Then the whomp of a hundred
thousand beer mugs hitting the bar at the same moment. And then the
storm. The good people of New England, for the first time this century,
gave vent to the sort of joyful whoop rarely heard outside a Brazilian
soccer stadium. Grown men cried, fat men danced, dogs made love to
cats, cats howled in alarm. It was glorious.

But beneath
the joyous din, a discerning ear could catch an undertone. This was the
sound of gnashing teeth and the staccato of snapped pencils. It was an
outcome from the game that wasn't covered in the papers. After all,
bookmakers are, by profession, discreet.

“The bookies got
burned,” recounts Sal (not his real name), a bookmaker at the time who
has since left the business. The moment Adam Vinatieri' blessed toes
spun the game ball into history, a small group of very nervous men lost
a great deal of money. That' because they had forgotten the golden rule
of their profession, bookmaking: Always balance the books by accepting
equal amounts of bets on both sides.

“Every Mickey Mouse
book in New England folded after that game,” says Sal. “They couldn't
pay out. Even established bookmakers had to take shy”-borrow money from
loan sharks-“so they could make payouts.” One North Shore book alone
took a loss of more than $1 million, Sal says.

The lesson
didn't stick. Last month' Super Bowl betting proved a repeat. Every
Pats fan wanted a piece of the expected victory, and the bookies
greedily obliged.

But fortune is a strumpet. “The line was
around seven,” says Sal. And the Patriots won 32-29. Three points
wasn't enough. The Patriots' win was a victory for local fans, but it
was a victory too slender to pay off. They lost their shirts, and the
bookies recouped their shortfall from the 2002 debacle.

“As Pats fans we were winners,” Sal says. “But as bettors we were all losers.”


Center fielder Fred Lynn started his career in Boston in 1975 by
carrying the Red Sox to the pennant, becoming the first player ever
named Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. His swing made him
a Fenway natural. Hearts stopped all over New England when he crashed
into the center-field wall going after a ball in Game 6 of the 1975
World Series.

What' the best part about playing in Boston?
Fenway Park. The fans are really close to the action. It' an intimate feeling.

The worst part?
If you had thin skin, it was not the place to be.

What does it take to win over a Boston fan?

If you were born there, you might have an edge. [Laughs.] But they
liked effort. If the effort is there, they appreciate that.

Aside from your teammates, who was the greatest Boston athlete?

Bill Russell. He had to deal with a lot of things nobody else did. He
dealt with them head on. I don't think there' a close second.

Is Boston the best sports town in America?

Why? I like fans who show up. If they're yelling, one way or another, that' fine. It keeps your head in the game.
-Ken Rosenthal

Game Over
Six months after the WUSA' demise, Boston Breakers players wonder what comes next.

By Greg Lalas

Jena Kluegel needs a job. Her résumé is weak on work experience, but
she' quick on her feet and has a degree in communications from the
University of North Carolina.

She can also deliver a hell
of a slide tackle. For the past two years, she was a starter for the
Boston Breakers of the Women' United Soccer Association (WUSA). But
since the league folded in September, young players like Kluegel, 24,
have been pounding the pavement rather than the FieldTurf at Boston
University' Nickerson Field.

“The girls in college have
time to figure it out,” she says. “The veterans and national team
players are set, too. Someone like me . . . ” Her voice trails off. You
can hear the heartbreak.

Its last season was a disaster
for WUSA. Attendance was down, TV ratings were minuscule, and the
three-year-old league had already burned through $100 million. “We
spent a lot of money in the first year,” says Breakers captain Kristine
Lilly. “That set us back and kept setting us back. We couldn't break

But Jeff Bliss, an adviser to the Women' Sports
Foundation and head of a sports marketing firm, the Javelin Group,
says, “This is a business. You have to ask, Is this going to work?”

Asked about the WUSA, many people would still say yes. “There was a
market for us,” says Breakers defender Kate Sobrero Markgraf. “Now we
have the experience and the knowledge to do it better.”

The WUSA is trying to regroup. All-star teams will barnstorm the
country. Rumors have been floating that Canton-based Reebok might pony
up some money for a 2005 relaunch. And the ever-popular women' national
team will be in Athens in August. “Everyone wants women' sports to take
off,” Bliss says. “But, again, it' a business. It takes millions of

Until somebody comes up with that cash, Jena
Kluegel will be left to scour the want ads. “I guess it was inevitable
I'd have to get a real job someday,” she admits. “I just didn't think
it would come so soon.”

The Agony of Defeat

1) The Red Sox sell George Herman Ruth, January 5, 1920.

2) Bill Buckner lets a grounder pass between his legs, October 25, 1986.

A drug scandal involving at least seven Patriots players is disclosed
just after the team is trounced by the Bears in the Super Bowl, January
28, 1986.

4) The Sox refuse to sign Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, or any black free agents between 1976 and 1992.

A Bruins penalty for having too many men on the ice helps the Canadiens
win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, May 10, 1979.

Then-Pats owner Victor Kiam makes crude jokes about a female
sportswriter who was sexually harassed in the locker room, September
17, 1990.

7) Rick Pitino (90-74 in two years with the Knicks) becomes Celtics boss, May 8, 1997.

8) Rosie Ruiz cheats in the marathon, April 21, 1980.

9) Celebrating Pats fans carry a goalpost onto Route 1; it hits an electrical wire, injuring five, December 22, 1985.

10) Grady leaves Pedro in for at least two batters too long, October 16, 2003.

Marathon Man


Emilio Rotondi doesn't keep a training diary as he prepares for next month's
Boston Marathon. After running Boston 26 years in a row, the 66-year-old has
the routine down pat.

“When I feel good, I run,” he says in a thick Italian accent. “When it's too
cold, I don't.”

Rotondi, who has lived mostly in Wellesley since immigrating from his native
Naples in the 1950s, has run Boston more often than all but one other current
entrant. He started in 1969 “to help a bad back,” finishing in 3:08. He posted
his personal best of 2:39 in 1972 and again in 1976. “That was a long time ago,”
he says.

As long ago as it seems, Rotondi isn't likely to break any longevity records,
such as Pennsylvanian Neil Weygandt's current streak of 37. But he's not concerned
with that. “You never know what's going to happen,” says Rotondi, who compares
the race to life itself.

“Once you're done, you can say, 'I did well,' but not before you've started.”

—Greg Lalas

Fighting Irish

Gaelic culture, in the form of a hard ball, comes to life at

a hurling tournament.

By John Patrick Pullen

As the ball falls toward the field, three men jump up, reach, and swing at
it. A mess of arms, faces, and clubs crowds the sky until Niall O'Dwyer
comes down with the small, rock-hard sphere. He smacks a shot into the top-right
corner of the goal. “In the air, on the ground, anywhere he wants to put
it,” says his former manager Brendan Dunphy, “he has tremendous
skill of the game.”

The game is hurling, which is played across Ireland and predates Jesus Christ.
No pads, few helmets, and even less fear. Broken bones and gashes scar deep
like the culture inherent within the game: the ball is known by its Irish name,
sliothar, and the teams are named for places in the Old Country. Last Labor
Day weekend, the North American County Board Playoffs of this fastest and most
brutal field sport ever played were held at Canton's Irish Cultural Centre.

Boston's first hurling match was played on the Common in 1888. In 1918,
the Gaelic Athletic Association, which oversees Gaelic sports worldwide, established
its first local club. Now Boston is home to more registered players and teams
than any city outside Ireland. A crowd of more than 10,000 came to Canton to
watch all the Gaelic sports last fall—hurling, “Irish football”
(which is like rugby), and camogie (women's hurling).

Two years ago, O'Dwyer's Tipperary Hurling Club won the North
American title in both the senior and junior divisions, an unprecedented feat.
O'Dwyer, then 20, played as if he'd spent a lifetime on the pitch.
With his pestering defense and punishing offense, the Boston resident, then
just a few months in this country, was named North American player of the year.

Tipperary didn't fare as well at the nationals last season, but local
teams won 7 of the 13 championships, lifting the Boston Irish above the fray.



Bobby Orr, a three-time NHL Hart Trophy winner as MVP, not only was the first
defenseman to win the league scoring title, but also scored the winning goals
in the Bruins' 1970 and '72 Stanley Cup victories. The first was
once voted the most memorable goal in NHL history. Today, he lives downtown
and is president/CEO of the Orr Hockey Group, a player-representation agency.

What was the best part about playing in Boston?
The city itself.
I think if you look at the number of athletes who remain here after they retire,
that says it better than I could.

What was the worst part?

I don't know if there is a worst. The fans can be tough on players. That's
gotta be tough. I was a lucky guy.

What does it take to win over Boston fans?

Good efforts. Honest efforts.

Aside from your teammates, who was the greatest Boston athlete?

I don't want to go to a game and be disappointed. Larry Bird never disappointed.

You always knew you were getting his all.

Is Boston the best sports town in America?

I think it is. The teams, the city—you've got it all.

—Greg Lalas

Big Shots

In the Corporate Basketball League, everything but

the play is first-rate.

By Rebecca Delaney

Belmont Hill School's gymnasium, which rivals that of any college, is
steamy with the body heat of middle-aged men huffing and puffing their way up
and down the gleaming court. The fans—two five-year-olds—are waiting
for halftime so they can go out on the floor and, like their fathers, heave
basketballs at the hoop.

Many of these players spend their days in the cutthroat world of Financial
District competition. The competition on the court may be somewhat less fierce—though
not for want of trying. But the gold-standard amenities of the Corporate Basketball
League help make up for it.

“We get the best refs and the best facilities,” says Mitchell Podufaly,
a software executive from Newton, who's been playing for 15 years on a
team that includes Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli and
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch.

Sam Zell, the league's commissioner, paces the sideline. Zell, who runs
the league as a hobby when he's not working in real estate, customizes
the calendar to fit players' hectic work schedules. No small feat, considering
those players come from such places as Nutter, McClennen & Fish, Harvard's
B-School, and the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox front offices.

The league offers three competitive levels. Podufaly's team plays in
Division A, the most competitive, which, according to Zell, includes some ex–Division
I college players. Zell tried to add a women's division, but the response
was minimal. “I'm surprised,” he says. “You would think
with the advent of women's sports that people would be interested, but
it just

hasn't translated.” Women who do want to play are placed on coed
teams in the B or C division, where they play against all-male teams or other
coed teams. Teams pay $1,250 per season, which covers jerseys, referees, scorekeepers,
and upkeep of the league's website (

David Ferrera, captain of the Nutter, McClennen & Fish team and a former
high school player at Framingham South (not to be confused with Dave Farrer,
shown above), says the customized schedules and top-notch facilities are why
he keeps coming back. But his favorite court isn't at one of the private
schools whose gyms the league books. Instead, he says, it's the gym at
Newton's Trinity Catholic High School. Why? “Because the court's
shorter,” Ferrera admits. “After a game we're wiped out.”



You probably call it Ping-Pong, a trademarked name that makes professional
players sneer. Ping-Pong is something you play in your basement, they'll
tell you; table tennis is an Olympic sport. In fact, by most accounts, it's
the second most popular sport in the world, after soccer. Whatever you call
it, the game is on a roll here. Clubs have sprouted, and a training school is
opening in Newton.

“Since I came to Boston in 1988, the popularity of the sport here has
increased immensely,” says Qiumars Hedayatian, who is spearheading the
Academy of Table Tennis in Newton.

Hedayatian started playing in Iran at age 10. Today he's ranked first
in New England and in the top 15 in America.

Alas, the popularity of table tennis still lags in this country. Why? “It
is too quick and the ball is too small, so it's very difficult to televise,”
Hedayatian theorizes. “Plus, Americans seem to favor contact sports.”

—Margit Feury Ragland

Almost Famous

In an Olympic year, these young athletes could prove a coach's—or
a television programmer's—dream.

By Greg Lalas

Katie Brooks, soccer and lacrosse

All-everything Winchester senior Brooks finished the soccer season with 31
goals and 14 assists and continues her all-American lacrosse career this spring.
In the fall, she'll suit up for NCAA powerhouse North Carolina in both

Nate Coolidge, field hockey

This Sandwich native's only option in high school was to play with the
girls. No problem. Now the 21-year-old plays for the U.S. national team.

Tiago Delboni, soccer

Medford's Delboni capped an all-American high school career with one
of the best seasons in state history: 31 goals and 21 assists.

Jesse Jantzen, wrestling

The Harvard senior, ranked first all season in the 149-pound weight class,
is favored at this month's NCAA championships and hopes to pin down a
spot on the Olympic team in May.

Jennifer Kirk, figure skating

The 19-year-old Newton native, who finished third at this year's U.S.
championships, previously danced for four years in the Boston

Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Jason Lawrence, ice hockey

The Saugus native has been traveling the world with the U.S. National Development
Program under-17 team, tallying 16 goals through the beginning of last month.
He'll play next year at Boston University.

Ashley McLaughlin, basketball

Andover's 6-foot-2 forward, who heads next to Holy Cross, is averaging
more than 16 points per game for the defending state champs.

Matt Nuzzo, football

In his three years as starting quarterback for perennial Division 1 contender
Everett, Nuzzo has a 34–1 record.

Dina Rizzo, field hockey

The 23-year-old Walpole native has scored three goals in just 19 games with
the U.S. national team, which this month heads to the Olympic qualifier in New

Alicia Sacramone, gymnastics

This is the Winchester 10th grader's first year on the U.S. national
team, so she has only an outside shot at making the Olympics, but tumblers in
the know say she has a chance to move up.

Keara Thomas, cross-country

Still only a freshman at Governor Dummer, the Haverhill native has won both
the Independent School League and the New England



November 7, 1863: The first documented game of American football
is played on Boston Common.

1881: Candlepin bowling is played for the first time at a
billiards hall in Worcester.

November 30, 1882: Needham plays Wellesley in what is now
the nation's oldest Thanksgiving Day football rivalry.

December 1891: Physical education teacher James Naismith
invents the game of basketball in

Springfield. 1895: In Holyoke, William Morgan invents the
game of volleyball.

April 19, 1897: Fifteen runners compete in the first Boston
Marathon, now the world's oldest in continuous operation.

October 1, 1903: The first World Series begins at the Huntington
Avenue Grounds. Boston defeats Pittsburgh in the game (4–2) and the Series

November 14, 1903: Harvard Stadium, now the nation's
oldest permanent football stadium, opens.

June 3, 1927: The Ryder Cup is played for the first time,

at the Worcester Country Club.

March 2, 1951: The Boston Garden hosts the first NBA

All-Star Game.

January 18, 1958: The Boston Bruins call up Willie O'Ree,
the first black player to sign with an NHL team.

Life in the Fast Lane

Candlepin bowlers get out their aggression in a sport

that is unique to New England.

By Sarah Adams

Many states have a pastime that offers a glimpse into the true nature of their
residents. Florida's is shuffleboard. Wisconsin's is ice fishing.
Massachusetts has a more obscure diversion: candlepin bowling. This offshoot
of tenpin got rolling in Worcester 125 years ago, when founder Justin White
first lobbed a grapefruit-sized ball at a bunch of one-inch-diameter pins in
his Pearl Street billiards hall. Tougher than tenpin because the ball and pins
are smaller, candlepin has been discomfiting its devotees—and they are
very loyal to the game—ever since.

Today there are hundreds of candlepin leagues in Massachusetts. Still, candlepin
hasn't caught on outside the Northeast. “We took it to Las Vegas
and California,” says Ralph Semb, president of the International Candlepin
Bowling Association and owner of a candlepin house in Erving, “but they
don't know how to play it.”

This may be because candlepin is not as simple as it looks. “It's
like throwing an orange down at a bunch of broomsticks,” explains last
year's world champion, 21-year-old Jeff Surette of Tewksbury. To discern
what separates the winners from the also-rans, I ask him if there's anything
special about his equipment. “How many . . . um . . . balls do you have?”
I ask. “Four,” Surette answers, unfazed.

His composure belies the aggressive nature of the game. “Things can get
out of hand,” longtime player John Kennedy shouts over the racket of clattering
pins at South Boston Candlepin. That may explain why Massachusetts residents
are so fond of the game. “[Candlepin] represents the typical New Englander—not
laid-back, not afraid to scream in competition,” says Semb. In other words,
it's right up our alley.



Already one of the greatest centers ever before he played for the Celtics from
1985 to 1987, Bill Walton helped the team win the NBA championship in 1986,
earning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was inducted into the
Hall of Fame in 1993.

What's the best part about playing in Boston?

I loved riding my bike through Harvard Square. I loved having lunch in Chinatown
with Red Auerbach and Larry Bird. But most of all, I loved the fans.

What was the worst part?

The only negative about my tenure in Boston was that it was too brief.

What does it take to win over a Boston fan? Boston fans embrace any player who
is determined to find a way to win.

Other than your teammates, who was the greatest Boston athlete?
Russell, who absolutely revolutionized the game.

Is Boston the best sports town in America?

It's sad that the younger generation of Celtic fans has no idea of what
the glory days were really about. But I believe in what Danny Ainge is doing,
and I believe that one of my duties is to keep the flame of Celtic greatness
still burning.

—Charley Rosen


[THE STATS: ANSWERS] 1) A. In his last season, in 1935, Ruth
hit six home runs for the Braves.

2) B. Benoit won twice, in 1979 and 1983. 3)
C. Fryar's TD catch from Steve Grogan made the score 44–10. 4)
A. Cousy coached the Eagles between 1963 and 1969, taking them to the NCAA regionals
twice. 5) Celtics, .598; Red Sox, .513; Bruins, .479; Patriots,